my name is lulu. i love to cook. i love to share my cooking with friends and family and as a working girl, i know how important it is to save money. one of the easiest methods of doing that is by bringing lunch to work. but after week three it seems you are eating another sandwich that doesn't quite taste as good as the one you bought at the deli a few weeks back. and you being to think "that 8 bucks was worth it". well, it wasn't. hopefully, this blog will inspire you to create some new and exciting lunches, that will keep your wallet - and your palate happy. lulu.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer time, and I crave fall?

It must be the grass is always greener syndrome, but I have had a hankering from Rosemary for the past 24 hours. Rosemary immediately makes me think of Vermont and winter. Rosemary roasted chicken and potatoes and veggies. So, being that I have been praying for sunny and 70 degrees, I figure it's time to make something with rosemary!! My checks are burning from the afternoon sun while watching our three year old poodle mix run circles around an out of breath bulldog. So, instead of the sting of the winter air, this will do.

My girlfriend and I equally love potatoes. Really served and prepared anyway. Potatoes are amazing. My mother did not like to make potatoes often when my sister and I were growing up. Since she came from a large family (oldest of 7) with little space and funds, don't you know it, they had potatoes A LOT. So, she was always reluctant to make them for us. So, of course, mashed potatoes felt like a treat in the cafeteria at school (although they were instant), they were still delicious and a luxury, ironically.

So, yesterday as we cruised the aisles of C-Town on Smith Street in Brooklyn, we decided to get a bag of beautiful mixed potatoes, blue, red and white (how patriotic). While walking the dogs this afternoon, we popped into our very over-priced local gourmet grocery. The one thing that is cheap there is the HERBS AND SPICES. So, i grabbed rosemary and thyme, not knowing what I was going to make.

As the clock hit 7 i decided to start the process. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Take about a pound of those potatoes and cut them in half. Put an 1/8 of a cup of good olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the rosemary (chopped) and 3/4 of a tablespoon of salt and half a tablespoon of pepper all in a bowl a mixing bowl with the potatoes. Use your hands to coat the potatoes with the mixture. Then spread them out in 1 layer on a sheet pan and stick them in the oven. Every 20 minutes turn the potatoes so they get toasty and crispy evenly. in 1 hour take them out! you will see a beautiful brown crisp on them and they taste AMAZING.

I caution you, potatoes are like little lava pockets. So, let them cool off for a minute or two and then indulge.

Makes a great side or a main course for your vegetarian partner.

Enjoy and let me know if you guys like this recipe. More to come, i promise. My days of neglecting the blog are over, over I tell you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the "you can't make soup" soup...

I know it's been a while - and the holiday rush is keeping us all very busy, but I thought it was about time to do a wintry recipe. Right now in NYC it is about 23 degrees. There is no threat of snow, just of a cold surge of wind on your already chapped lips and face. Winter, you are beautiful and painful all at the same time.

So, last Friday I found myself home with a cold. I know –sounds familiar- like my first post. Home with a cold from school as a child, what next – tuna fish and beans. This time I went for the obvious choice. Soup. I looked over the island of the kitchen to find my girlfriend looking at me like, “what are you about to do”. I said, in my congested tone “I’m going to make us soup”. She said “you don’t know how to make soup”, I thanked her for her encouragement as we both laughed. Knowing she is a vegetarian I went about looking through recipes that would be good for both of us. If it doesn’t have meat, it better have cheese. So, after flipping a few pages and thinking creatively, I came up with the “you can’t make soup”, soup. I'll admit, I was a little nervous because she was partially right. I've never made soup before, so maybe I can't make soup. But as I started chopping the vegetables and getting my ingredients ready I became more and more excited to see my soup bubble and steam to perfection with every minute that went by.

We made a pot big enough for 12 people and I kid you not, within 3 days it was GONE. I really hope you all enjoy this. It has turned into my favorite recipe because it has created an amazing memory for me.

Tuscan Vegetable Soup with White Beans and Parmesan

1 1-pound package dried cannellini (white kidney beans)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 head of green cabbage, cut into1/2-inch pieces

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

10 cups (or more) vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth

2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 head of red cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 3/4-inch-thick slices 7-grain bread, toasted

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Additional olive oil

Place beans in heavy large pot. Pour in enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Soak overnight. Drain beans.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in very large pot over medium heat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes. Add green cabbage, tomatoes, celery, and carrots; sauté for 10 minutes. Add beans, 10 cups stock, potatoes, and basil. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 hour. Add red cabbage and zucchini. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Uncover. Add toasted bread slices to soup and remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in cheese. Divide soup among bowls. Top each serving with ground pepper and additional olive oil and serve.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday - fall for it.

Lunch with lulu


I have been waiting for this time of the year for a few months now. The only time in New York City, when the air actually smells like - well - air. There is no struggle to breath, the subways aren't unbearable and scarves are back! It's fall. It's beautiful. It's hopeful. It's time for a new start - new love - new opportunity. It makes you sad and optimistic all at once. Remembering the old, but looking to the future. Thank you fall, for coming. And thank you for making night walks with my dog chuck even more meaningful, with your leaves and cool breeze. Thank you for being CHILI....speaking of.

Chili – so many different ways to make chili. I don’t really like a ton of cumin in mine, mainly because I like to make it the way my mom used to make it. When we were growing up my mother used to cook every Sunday. Whether it was brisket or chili or chicken soup, she would make something unforgettable and fragrant. I would sit on the floor of the kitchen wearing her blue terry cloth robe, that I acquired as my security blanket at a very young age, and watch her chop vegetables and clean chicken, cook meat and always prepare something nice for desert. Sundays were a day to sit down as a family and have comfort food. Real, comfort food with each bite you could taste the scents and textures that went into each chop, stir and mix.

So, here is a quick chili recipe that I really enjoy:

1 lb of ground turkey or beef

1 large onion chopped roughly

1 large can crushed tomato

1 jalapeno pepper chopped finely

1 yellow pepper chopped roughly

A few dashes of hot sauce (I like texas petes or red hot)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 can of kidney beans

1 can of black beans

Red pepper flakes

Tiny bit of cumin

Heat the olive oil up in a pot, add the chopped onions and peppers into the pot until the onion is translucent and the mixture smells like heaven. Add the meat and cook it on up until the meat is cooked through. Add the pepper flakes, jalapenos, hot sauce and crushed tomatoes. Mix it up. Take a whiff.

Open the cans of beans and wash them off. Dry them and add them to the pot. Put a touch of cumin in the mixture and turn the heat down low…let that mixture simmer for an hour or so, watch it get thick. Then let it cool. I like to make rice too and mix it together.

Don’t forget the following ingredients for toppings: sour cream, shredding cheddar and some salsa and chips on the side.

I like to make a pound of it and end up eating it for a few meals during the week. It is one of those foods that tastes just as good heated up the next day.

Plus, when it’s cool and breezy outside, and I’m in an office that looks nothing like my mother’s kitchen, heating up that chili, well it makes me feel a lot better.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tossed and Chopped - Tuesday

Tuesday after Columbus Day– maybe it’s time for a salad?

I love salads, but as we all know, it is so tempting to go and buy one. Especially at those places that have a million things you can pick from. Well, let’s make our own. I started making these salads often after I found really cheap tuperwear at ikea. I never had enough storage for all of the ingredients I wasn’t using completely, so making these salads felt daunting. Not anymore. Let’s make a really yummy chopped salad.

My inspiration for this salad is from a place called Sarabeths – there are a few locations throughout new york city. When I was younger I used to go to the one on the upper east side with my mother. On the weekends we would sometimes take a walk over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see whatever was new, and I knew that on those days I would have a fancy lunch with my mother. In fact, even as an adult that restaurant held one of my favorite memories. My grandmother was in New York City, seeing specialists, right after she was diagnosed with leukemia. Prior to her diagnoses we decided to take her to dinner at Sarabeths. It was me, my mother and my sister - her oldest daughter and her two oldest grandkids. Since we have such a big family, we usually have so many kids running around when grandma was in town, so much company. But this time it was just the four of us. I think, for my grandmother, it was such an important time for her, to see her granddaughters as adults, responsible, caring, successful adults who she loved so much. I saw the pride in her eyes and she saw it in ours and we all knew she was about to start a battle that would inevitably take her fifteen months later. We sat for hours, laughed, ate, talked about our lives, her life, my mother sat back and listened and smiled. As we walked out of the restaurant, cold air hitting our pink cheeks, she looked at us and said it was one of the best nights of her life. It was one of mine too.

That dinner was memorable.

As are the lunches - Sarabeths inspired me to start making chop salads. They use romaine, chicken, bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled eggs and corn. But instead of mixing it all up, they put it in rows on a plate with a side of balsamic dressing. I tried that once, putting the ingredients in rows, but by the time I got off the 1 train, the entire salad had turned over in my bag a few times and ended up mixed as can be. It still tasted wonderful.

So, here are my favorite ingredients to put into a chop salad.

Chop a head of romaine and add to a large tuperwear container. Add the following in quantities you can decide (remember to chop them up):

· -Hearts of palm

· -Honey Turkey from the deli counter

· -Shredding mozzarella cheese

· -Corn

· -Black beans

· -Avocado

· -Hard boiled eggs

· -Cherry tomatoes

· -Potatoes (just boil some new potatoes and cool with cold water, then chop)

For the dressing, I never go bottled. I like to make my own lemon vinaigrette. It is super easy.

· -3 tables spoons of extra virgin olive oil

· -The juice of an entire lemon

· -A table spoon of Dijon mustard

· -A dash of salt and pepper

· -A little lemon zest

Take a fork and whip up this dressing. It is so easy and light and delicious. Put that in a separate little tuperwear container and you are ready to go.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wednesday - you are no fun...

Wednesdays have never been my favorite day. You start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but realize that light is farther away than you thought. Ugh, Wednesdays. You always inspire me to grab something out of the freezer and just stick it in the toaster oven. Like last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday went down in the books. I had gone to work in jeans and a suit jacket, thinking I didn’t need to wear a full suit to work. Once I figure out that my computer calendar did NOT sync with my iphone correctly, I figured out that I needed a full suit – big corporate meetings in midtown requires a full suit.

I grabbed my wallet, sunglasses and best friend and walked to j.crew at the south street seaport. I got distracted at the over-priced, underwhelming shirts at Abercrombie, but then slowly heard my aunt’s voice in my head, telling me about the bed bug problem at Abercrombie store. Cut to me walking out empty-handed.

I digress.

So, I make it to j.crew, my best friend gets bored and leaves. Even gay men are bad shoppers. I find a pair of pants I half like, but need to buy because I’m out of time. I try them on, zipper in the back, decent looking, and decide this is it. I turn my head around to try and finagle the zipper down and realize it is stuck. It is really stuck. I keep trying to get the zipper down but I can’t. Finally, I realize the zipper is fully zipped into my bright pink underwear. I can’t call a sales person because I am practically naked trying to figure out how to get my underwear out of the zipper. Sweating and panicked, I pull as hard as I can creating a huge hole in my underwear but freeing the zipper and my anxiety. Relieved and out of breath I decide to put the pants back on CAREFULLY and wear them out of the store.

By the time I got back to the office, I just grabbed a pepperoni frozen Red Barron pizza out of the freezer and microwave it for 2 minutes then stick it in the toaster oven. It was delicious and totally what I needed, but not this Wednesday. No holey underwear or panicked suit purchasing.

This Wednesday will be a lunch with a desert, just because it’s the middle of the week. This Wednesday will be a sandwich and one that caters to vegetarians. Morningstar makes a buffalo chicken patti (obviously not real chicken) that, for this carnivore, is quite tasty. I always thought the only reason I would eat anything like that is if I had no choice, but I was wrong. After living with a vegetarian, my lunch box opened to a million new items.

Back to lunch:

· One (or two if you are really hungry) morningstar patties

· A piece of romaine lettuce

· A toasted multi-grain English muffin

· A piece of muenster cheese

· One sliced Nathan’s pickle

· A slice of tomato

· Mayo and grainy mustard mix on the English muffin

I like to put the cheese on one side of the bread so it melts when it comes out of the toaster, and the mayo mustard mixture on the other side. The pickles cuts though the heat of the patti, and the lettuce and tomato – well they just make me feel American!

The patti is delicious in the toaster oven, it gets crispy that way. The microwave instructions work but the patties don’t get as crispy as they could.

Four patties come in a box and they last forever in the freezer so this is a last minute lunch that Sandra Lee would approve of.

Oh and don't think I forgot about dessert. It is three, count em, three Mallomars. some fun facts about mallomars (also known as my favorite cookie) -

Hearts Aflutter and Freezers Full

Indeed, Mallomars appear almost magically each October and almost exclusively in New York. In fact, 70 percent of the Mallomars distributed by Nabisco end up in New York, presumably because it had its origins in the New York-New Jersey area.

The yellow cellophane wrapped boxes begin appearing on the end-of-aisle displays in my neighborhood grocery store, piled high in an iconoclastic display that sets consumers’ hearts aflutter and reminds us to make room in the freezer for the boxes we hoard to get us through the warmer months.

October Through March

Mallomars are re-introduced by Nabisco to salivating consumers in October and then usually disappear in mid-March. To keep Mallomars from going soft in warm weather, the Canadian factory that makes them halts production in March and resumes in September.

Some Mallomars aficionados love the limited availability, while others say the seasonal schedule is way behind the times. Nabisco, meanwhile, apparently enjoys the public’s anticipatory fascination with Mallomars so much that it has kept the cookie seasonal for years.



ps - As a suggested musical selection, I am eating while listening to the dixie chick's "Wide Open Spaces" cd. In my opinion, it might be their best.

Tuesday - First cold of the fiscal year

Its ironic that my first blog ever is actually from my apartment - not from my job. Lunch was prepared in my kitchen, not the company kitchen. And the cherry on this irony sundae is I can't taste a thing...my senses are all off, but it didn't stop me from whipping up something delicious. My dog, chuck, can attest, as he dove for the tiny morsel of food that accidently spilled over the top of the bowl as I aggressively mixed and mixed.

My original "go-to" today was a tuna sandwich. When i was a kid and had to stay home sick from school with a cold, my mother would call this woman named Aunt Estelle to come and take care of me. She wasn't MY aunt, but she was definitely someone's aunt as she wore a long gold necklace adorned with small gold charms of her nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews names. She would park me on the couch turning the television on to the "Price is Right" and go into the kitchen to prepare the tuna sandwich. I would ask for it, loved it, and knew it tasted different and better than any other tuna sandwich. But for years i couldn't figure out why. As I got older i would watch her in the kitchen preparing the sandwich. I don't know if she did it purposefully, but she would always sneak in that secret ingredient. Finally, when I was 11 I got a glimpse of what it was. Simple. It was so simple. Vinegar. White wine vinegar. A splash. Who knew!! Well, I knew and have never had simple tuna again.

As the years have gone by since my Aunt Estelle days I have traveled and tasted many different combinations of food. Some I never would have imagined. My most recent trip to Italy in August sparked this newest tuna creation. And just like Aunt Estelle's it is SIMPLE. White beans, Cannolini beans. They come in a can, you know.

So today, with a sandwich in mind* (though i looked at last week's bag of bread - saw the mold - and went with more of a tuna salad), I grabbed a medium-sized bowl, put a can of bumble bee tuna (in water) in it, added a healthy portion of mayo, salt and pepper and in a separate bowl, put the can of beans. Before I put the beans in the bowl, I dumped them into a colander and washed them off. Then I put them in the bowl, added about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of kosher sea salt and pepper and then tossed them around. After that, I took about half a lemon and squeezed the fresh juice on the beans. Once that was done, I put about half the can of beans into the tuna and mayo mixture and tossed it all around.

*If this were a sandwich I would use the beans as a spread and line one piece of toast with this yummy mixture. Then taste each ingredient in every bite!

I hope you enjoyed today's lunch suggestion...i couldn't quite taste it but thank God my memory served me well, because i was right back there on the couch with Bob Barker and Aunt Estelle.